Figurative Language In 'The Black Walnut Tree'

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At its core, “The Black Walnut Tree” is a conflict between the sentimental and what practically needs to be done. Throughout the poem, the author utilizes a very matter-of-fact and almost dismissive tone as the daughter and her mother debate whether or not to sell the tree and finish paying off a loan that they owe. As the poem progresses, this matter-of-fact tone transitions into figurative language as the black walnut tree takes on a more symbolic view. Mary Oliver shows in “The Black Walnut Tree” that the tree symbolizes the family’s heritage and all that their father has sought to accomplish, and, while the mortgage weighs down the family, cutting down and selling the tree would, in a sense, betray the family and what it stands for. Written in free verse, “The Black Walnut Tree” takes a straight forward and casual approach to the topic and is most apparent …show more content…

Hansberry explores this idea at length as Walter talks how an increase in cash flow would benefit him. Obsessed with his dream, Walter tells his Mama “[money] if life!” When this life dream comes crashing down, Walter finds himself tempted to accept a white man’s bride instead of standing up for his pride and his family. Perhaps his ideals changed; or perhaps he realized his dream was only a fantasy; or perhaps he truly thought that this was the best decision for his family. However, when decisions making time comes, Mama pulls Travis aside, telling him to ask Walter what the five generations before him had come to do. Indeed, Walter teaches his son. He talks about his father and how his fathers pride caused him to kill a man rather than to be insulted, the aspirations of his siter, how their father earned their house “brick by brick”. At this point, the overall tone of the play changes. No longer does the play continue in a despairing mindset, but it changes as Walter steps up to become “the man of the

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